Monday, May 11, 2015

Economic $urvival: H2O Goes from One Crop to Another

It’s the farmer’s version of “Paying Peter to Pay Paul.”

In this case, the currency is California’s equivalent to liquid gold – aka H2O, agua, aqua or water. This practice could increase as we get deeper into the growing season, according to field scout Carlos Silva.
Carlos says one veteran grower already has turned off the water tap to one of his three alfalfa fields just a couple months into the season, which normally runs through the early fall. But the grower is settling for just three cuttings in this field so he can use that water allotment for more profitable crops. The choice is a matter of economical survival during an unprecedented drought
So far, other growers appear to be moving forward and irrigating their alfalfa as they prepare for their next harvest in the coming weeks. You might recall many growers last year indicated the alfalfa season could end by June due to lack of water. But they wound up securing enough water to make it through the fall. They might not be lucky this season because of a fourth straight dry year.
It may be a water balancing act for alfalfa growers.
In the meantime, Carlos says pests have been under control in alfalfa. Aphids and weevils counts are relatively low. But the recent cool weather could lead to an increase in aphid counts.

Almond orchards also aren’t experiencing any significant pest threats. The same is true for cotton, Carlos points out. While he’s finding some mites in cotton, there have been enough thrips around to keep the mites in check.

Cotton seedlings have grown to about 4 inches tall.

While the dry winter and spring has pushed almond development about a month ahead of schedule this year, the cotton crop is following a rather normal growth pattern. That’s probably due to the mixture of hot and cool weather since cotton was planted last month. The seedlings are about four inches tall and averaging around four nodes.

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